The US Government Accountability Office has announced that the F-35 fighter program is twelve years behind schedule.
The Pentagon has faced serious problems in implementing the program to purchase new and maintain the technical condition of fifth-generation F-35 fighters already in service, produced by the defense concern Lockheed Martin. After an audit, the US Accounting Chamber announced that in general this program is being implemented twelve years behind schedule, reports the international publication Defense News.
The US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps currently operate more than 450 F-35 aircraft. In total, the US Department of Defense plans to purchase about two and a half thousand of these fighters, for which it plans to spend $1,7 trillion. Moreover, most of the funds, about 1,3 trillion, will be spent on the technical and operational maintenance of the aircraft fleet.
Experts from the Accounting Chamber, having checked the condition of the fighters already at the disposal of the US Army, came to the conclusion that many of the F-35s are not ready for combat use in a real war. In March 2023, all F-35s had a combat capability level of 55 percent, well below the 70 percent target set for the F-35A and the 75 percent target for the F-35B and F-35C.
The main problem arose with frequent failures of aircraft parts, their number increased from 4300 to more than 10000. The repair period has also increased significantly, which according to standards should be no more than 60 days, but in fact it takes an average of 141 days. To somehow solve this problem, the F-35 program office purchases new parts at a higher price, without waiting for the damaged parts to return from repair.
All this led to increased costs for the entire program and a shortage of funds within the approved costs to pay for the acquisition of new fighters. In addition, as Lockheed Martin management announced in July, in 2023 the corporation will not have time to deliver approximately 50 fifth-generation F-35 fighters of all modifications to customers on time.
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